Quaker Family History Society                   for family historians with Quaker ancestors from the British Isles


General Terms 
Act of ParliamentIn Quaker documents it refers to the Act of 1695 which allowed Quakers to declare and affirm rather than swear an oath. Quakers said that they spoke the truth all the time and didn’t need to swear to tell the truth only on a particular occasion (see also Affirmed and Declared)
AffidavitA written statement as to the truth of the contents
AffirmantA person, especially a Quaker, who affirmed to the truth of something
AffirmedA statement made in public. Quakers declared and affirmed in legal matters, as they refused to use oaths (see also Act of Parliament and Declared)
AleA drink brewed from water, malted barley and a mixture of herbs. The brewing process killed off the germs found in the water and was drunk by men, women and children. Normally the mixture was made three times from the same brew, decreasing in alcoholic strength each time
AlienationTransfer of the title or property to another person
Andirons or FiredogsTwo upright and horizontal Iron bars used to support logs in a fireplace (see also Brandirons and Cobirons).
Anno Domini (Latin)In the Year of Our Lord
AnnuityAnnual payment of either a fixed amount or interest on a sum of money invested for that purpose
AnticipationPayment of an annuity in advance
AppurtenancesThe rights attached to a property such as rights of way, grazing rights, or agreements relating to manorial land
Arable LandLand used for growing crops of various kinds
AssignsAny person acting in place of the owner or granted legal rights by the real owner
BacksidesRear of the property, or outhouses and yard at the rear of a property
BeastsNormally cattle
BehoofBenefit, advantage or use
BequestA gift of personal property made in a will (see also Devise)
BetwixtBetween two people or items
BolsterA long thick pillow, normally used underneath other pillows
BondA written contract between the bond holder and others guaranteeing that they will carry out the obligation made in the contract
BrandironsAn iron grid or trivet for supporting cooking pots over an open fire (see also Andirons and Cobirons)
ButtA barrel containing around 126 gallons of liquid
Camera ObscuraThe forerunner of a modern camera, an image of an external object is projected through a lens onto a surface opposite
Cattels and ChattelsAny moveable personal property or effects
CaveatA warning of specific stipulations or conditions
Caveat emptor (Latin)Buyer beware
ChaldronA dry measure of coal or grain, around 34 bushels
ChamberA room, often a bedroom
ChargerA large flat serving dish, often made of pewter
CloseAn enclosed field
CobironsIron bars put over a fire to support a spit (see also Andirons and Brandirons)
CodicilA written addition to a will, normally witnessed
CofferA wooden chest for holding clothes, papers, money or valuables
ConveyanceThe legal transfer of property from one person to another
CopperA large vessel made of copper used for storing hot or cold water
CopyholdProperty or land rented from the owner, normally the Manor in which the land lay, and the transaction was recorded in the Court Rolls. The land reverted back to the owner on the death of the copyholder, and the Manor would normally admit the heir or heirs named in the will to take over the same land on payment of a fine.
Court BaronA court set up by the Lord of the Manor or his steward to deal with Manorial business, including admitting new tenants and resolving disputes
Cousin GermanA first cousin, in the past the term “cousin” was often used for other close relations
CoverlidA coverlet or bedspread
CovertureThe legal process where a married woman’s rights were absorbed into those of her husband
DeclaredTo openly or publically announce (see also Affirmed and Act of Parliament)
DeedA document or contract which gave the holder the right to a property
Desperate DebtA debt that is likely to be irrecoverable or hopeless of being collected (see also Sperate Debt)
DestrainTo seize a property in order to recover money owed
Devise A gift of actual property made in a will (see also Bequest)
DiaperA piece of cloth, normally linen or cotton, either for use at table or for a baby’s nappy (see also Napkin)
Dower or ThirdsThe right of a wife to claim, on the death of her husband, one third of his land and property for her lifetime, often replaced in a will by a bequest
Dumb WaiterA small portable table or stand
ExecutorA man, or sometimes a woman, who was appointed to carry out a will and named in that will
ExecutrixA woman who was appointed to carry out a will and was named in that will
ExpectancyThe possibility of future enjoyment of property or effects which were expected to be inherited
Family NameQuakers used family name instead of surname (see also Given Name)
FeatherbedA mattress stuffed with feathers
Fee SimpleUnconditional inheritance
Flock mattressA mattress stuffed with wool
FreebenchThe right of a widow to retain control of some of her deceased husband’s estate
FreeholdLand actually owned by a person
GigA light carriage with two wheels normally pulled by a single horse or pony
Given NameQuakers used given name instead of Christian name (see also Family Name)
GuardianA person appointed to take care of another, often a child or children under the age of 21
HeiferA young cow
HereditamentA property able to be passed on
Herring HangA building used for smoking or storing herrings
HoldenHeld or kept
HollandLinen cloth
Joyned or JoyntedWooden furniture made by a joiner with mortise and tenon joints and wooden pegs
Imprimis (Latin)In the first place
IndentureA legal written agreement or contract
Indifferent personsImpartial people
InterlinedA word or words inserted between the lines of a document
IntestateA person who dies without leaving a will
InventoryA list of personal and household goods left by the person who has died, including their value
Issue of his or her bodyChildren
Joint TenantsTwo or more people who own the same property or land, the survivor to eventually inherit the entire estate (see also Tenants in Common)
JointureAn agreement made before a marriage to guarantee the bride a specific property, amount of money or goods, in case her husband died before she did, thereby protecting her future
KiverA large bowl or basin for mixing and preparing food. Could also mean a cover for a bowl
LeaseholdProperty or land rented or leased to a person for their lifetime, but not actually owned by them
LegacyAn amount of money or property left to someone in a will
Legacy dutyA tax imposed on a legacy or an inheritance tax
Letters of AdministrationA grant to the person or persons who applied to administer the property of someone who did not leave a will, or a person appointed by a court to settle the estate
LinenItems made of linen, either household articles or clothing
MaltSprouted and dried barley used for brewing beer and ale
Malting or Malting HouseA building where grain was malted. It is sometimes known as a Malting Office
ManorAn estate or area of land, often including a village or villages, farms and parish church, held by the Lord or Lady of the Manor.
MeadA meadow, or a drink made from honey
MessuageA property or dwelling house with adjoining land and outbuildings
MinorityUnder the age of 21 years, changed to under the age of 18 in 1970
MoietyHalf part
NapkinA square piece of cloth, normally linen or cotton, used for wiping the mouth at meal times, or as a baby’s nappy (see also Diaper)
NeeA woman’s maiden or birth family name or surname
NuncupativeA will made before witnesses by word of mouth, but not signed
Objects of VertuSmall luxury items made of precious metals or jewels
Pasture LandLand or field used for growing grass for grazing by various animals
Per Capita (Latin)Literally by head. Land or property owned jointly where the share can only pass to the named beneficiary
Per Stirpes (Latin)Literally by root. Land or property owned jointly where the share of the named person can be divided among their heirs after their death
PewterA metal used for making dishes, plates and tankards
Pillion A type of saddle attached behind a normal saddle either for carrying a second rider or luggage
Pillow bear, beere or bereA pillow case or covering
PlateItems made from metal, including silver
PorringerA small individual bowl, often with two flat handles, for porridge or soup
PressA tall item of furniture made of wood used for storing clothes and textiles, like a cupboard with drawers
ProbateThe process of proving the validity of the will and settling the estate
PurpartsA share or part of a division
ReversionThe return of property to the original owner after the death of a beneficiary, or when a lease expired
RevokeOfficially cancel
RowleA farm implement, possibly a roller of some kind
SafeA ventilate chest for storing foodstuffs or a secure metal box for storing documents or valuables
SaltA container for salt as well as the contents
Save harmlessProtect someone against financial harm
SealA mark made into softened wax by a metal ring or stamp, the personal property of the owner, either an addition to or instead of a signature
ShagreenSharkskin or rough hide
SidesaddleA type of riding saddle, normally used by ladies, where the legs are wrapped around pommels and both are on one side of the horses’ back. Only one stirrup is used
Sperate debtThe debts a woman owed prior to her marriage (see also Desperate debt)
SpinsterAn unmarried woman
SpitAn iron bar used for roasting meat over an open fire
Staddle stoneA mushroom shaped stone under a barn or hayrick to raise it off the ground in order to keep rats out
SteerA young bull calf between 2 and 4 years old
TasterA wide shallow cup or glass
Tenants in CommonThe owner of a specific share in a property which can be disposed of separately from the owners of the remainder of the property and without their consent (see also Joint Tenants)
TenementA house or other building or land
TestatorThe man who made the will
TestatrixThe woman who made the will
TesterA wooden canopy above a bed
ThrawlA stone slab or shelf to keep food cool in a pantry or larder
TickingA strong fabric used for covering mattresses
TitheA tenth part. Payment due until the 19th century by all people living within a Church of England parish, payable to the Vicar. Quakers refused to pay this and were often sent to jail or heavily fined for non-payment
TrencherA wooden plate
TrivetA three legged iron stand to support pots of food or liquid over or near an open fire
Truckle bedA low bed designed to fit under a normal bed, often on wheels so it could be pulled out when needed
TumbrilAn open cart which could tip backwards to empty its load
WainscotWood panelling on the walls of a room or a panelled chest or chair
Warming panA metal pan with a long handle which could be filled with hot coals, used to warm a bed
Wearing apparelClothes, including underwear and footwear
Will and TestamentThe written document disposing of a person’s property and effects, which has been signed and witnessed. Originally the Will referred to real property and the Testament referred to personal effects
Yoting VatA trough for soaking and fermenting barley when making beer
Money (pre decimalisation)
Broad PieceA gold coin worth £1 issued around 1656 during the Commonwealth
CrownA coin worth 5 shillings
FarthingA coin worth a quarter of a penny which ceased to be legal currency in 1961
FlorinA silver coin first issued in 1849 worth 2 shillings
GroatA coin worth 4 pence
GuineaA gold coin originally worth £1, but after 1717 worth £1 1 shilling
Half CrownA coin worth 2 shillings and 6 pence
Half SovereignA coin worth 10 shillings
Halfpenny or halfpenceA coin worth half a penny
MarkA coin worth two thirds of a pound
NobleA coin worth a third of a pound
Penny or penceAbbreviated to d. There were 12 pennies to 1 shilling and 240 pennies to £1
Pounds sterlingAbbreviated to L. or £
ShillingAbbreviated to s. A silver coin, later cupro-nickel. There were 20 shillings to £1
SovereignA gold coin worth £1
ApothecaryA person who prepared and sold medicines (see also Druggist and Pharmacist)
BakerA person who made and sold bread and pastries
Baize makerA person who made baize, a kind of coarse woollen material similar to felt
Bay makerA person who made bay, a kind of woollen cloth, a speciality of Colchester in Essex
Book SellerA person who sold books and sometimes other writing materials (see also Stationer)
Brazier or BrasierA person who worked with metal, especially brass
BrewerA person who made beer (see also Malster)
BroadweaverA person who operated a wide loom to make cloth
Brush and Basket makerA person who made and sold brushes and baskets, either retail or wholesale
Cabinet makerA person who made high class furniture of all types
Calico printerA person who printed patterns onto calico, a type of cotton material, with the aid of wooden blocks
CarpenterA person who worked in wood, especially making large objects and house timbers (see also Joiner)
ChandlerA person who made and dealt in tallow or wax candles and soap. A ships chandler sold a variety of items needed for boats and ships
ChapmanA person who dealt in small items, either travelling around from place to place, or in premises
CheesemongerA person who sold cheese and other dairy products
ClerkEither a Clerk in Holy Orders, a Church of England Clergyman, or a Clerk who worked in an office doing clerical work
ClothierA person who supplied wool or other materials to out-workers who then turned them into cloth, subsequently collected and sold by the Clothier
Coal MerchantA person who sold coal, either retail or wholesale
CobblerA person who repaired shoes and boots
ConfectionerA person who made and sold sweets and chocolates
CordwainerA person who made bespoke shoes and boots or other leather items (see also Shoemaker)
Corn MerchantA person who sold corn and other grain
CooperA person who made or repaired wooden barrels, casks, tubs and hoops
CurrierA person who dressed, finished and dyed tanned leather
DistillerA person who made spirits and liqueurs
DraperA person who dealt in fabrics and sewing items, sometimes including finished goods such as articles of clothing (see also Haberdasher, Linen draper and Woollen draper)
DruggistA person who prepared and sold medicines (see also Apothecary and Pharmacist)
FarmerA person who grows crops and raises livestock
Fellmonger or FeltmongerA person who dealt in hides and sheep skins
FeltmakerA person who made felt for hats (see also Hatter)
FishermanA person who caught fish, normally at sea, both boat owners and members of the crew
GentlemanA wealthy man who had income from land he owned, later a wealthy professional man possibly retired
GloverA person who made and sold gloves
GrazierA person who grazed cattle or sheep
GrocerA person who sold provisions
HaberdasherA person who dealt in hats and caps and other small items such as threads and ribbons (see also Draper)
HatterA person who made and sold hats (see also Feltmaker and Milliner)
HusbandmanA man who had his own smallholding, but also worked on other people’s land
InnkeeperA person who owned or rented an inn offering accommodation for humans and horses (see also Tavern keeper)
IronmongerA person who sold metal items such as tools, household or farming equipment
JoinerA person who made wooden items such as furniture and window or door frames (see also Carpenter)
Linen DraperA person who dealt in fabrics, primarily linen, both table linen and clothing (see also Draper)
Malster or MaltsterA person who made malt for brewing (see also Brewer)
MarinerA person who owned a boat or boats, for either fishing, carrying passengers or trading goods
MercerAn exporter and importer of high class materials such as fine woollen, linen and silk
MillerA person who ground grain into flour
MillinerA person who made and sold women’s hats (see also Hatter)
Patten MakerA person who made protective overshoes, often raised a few inches above the ground
Pharmacist A person who prepared and sold medicines (see also Apothecary and Druggist)
PlumberA person who worked with lead, including lead glazing for windows, outside guttering and pipes, and painting with white lead paint
SawyerA person who cut up timber
SaymakerA person who made or wove say, a type of cloth used for items such as bedding or table cloths
Sevier or SivierA person who made sieves
ShoemakerA person who made or repaired shoes and boots (see also Cordwainer)
ShopkeeperA person who sold a variety of general items
StationerA person who sold books, paper and writing implements (see also Book Seller)
StaymakerA person who made corsets, also known as stays
SurgeonA doctor who also operated on patients
Tallow ChandlerA person who dealt in candles, soap and oil
TannerA person who tanned or cured animal ides for making leather goods
Tavern KeeperA person who sold ale and beer (see also Innkeeper)
Vellum MakerA person who made parchment from calf skins
WebsterA weaver
Watch and Clock MakerA person who made and repaired watches and clocks, or who sold watches or clocks made by other people
WeaverA person who wove cloth, originally at home, often a man
Wool ComberA person who combed wool to prepare it for spinning
Woollen DraperA person who sold woollen cloth and woollen items (see also Draper)
YeomanA man who owned and worked his own land as a freeholder or copyholder. He was entitled to serve on a jury and vote
Chain22 yards, standardised in 1620
Foot12 inches
Furlong220 yards
Hand4 inches, used for measuring the height of a horse
InchA unit of length
Mile1760 yards
Rod Pole or Perch16 and a half feet, standardised in 1607
Span9 inches
Yard36 inches
Acre4840 square yards
HideBetween 90-240 acres
RoodA quarter of an acre, can also be written as Rod
Yardland or VirgateAround 30 acres
Bakers Dozen13
Half Dozen6
Barrel34 gallons, from 1688, then 36 gallons after 1824
Firkin72 pints or 9 gallons
Gallon8 pints
Hogshead51 gallons, from 1688, then 54 gallons from 1824
Kilderkin18 gallons, or half a barrel
Pin36 pints
PintMeasure of liquid
BushelA dry measure of 8 gallons weighing around 56 pounds
ChaldronA dry measure of around 34 bushels of coal or grain
Hundredweight112 pounds
Ounceoz. A weight
PeckA dry measure of 2 gallons weighing around 14 pounds
PoundAbbreviated to lb. 16 ounces
Stone14 pounds
Ton2240 pounds
A.D. (Latin)Anno Domini, in the year of our Lord
Admor or AdmorsAdministrator or Administrators
Adcon or AdmonAdministration
A.M. or M.A.Master of Arts
c. (Latin)Circa, or about
Etc (Latin)Et cetera. Indicating that other items are included
M.D.Doctor of Medicine
N.P. or Not.PubNotary Public
NeeMaiden family name of a woman
Rev or RevdReverend
Sol or SolrSolicitor
Tesor or TestorTestator
Viz or Vizt (Latin)Videlicet, or namely
DatesChange of date from the Julian to the Gregorian Calendar in 1751/52 affected the numbering of months. Quakers used month numbers rather than the names such as August as many of the names had pagan origins. Before 1752 Month 1 was March with New Year’s Day being March 25, December was month 10 and February month 12. In Quaker documents the 20 February 1644 would appear as 20 day 12 month 1643/44.
First DaySunday
Month 1Before 1752 March, after 1752 January
Month 2Before 1752 April, after 1752 February
Month 3Before 1752 May, after 1752 March
Month 4Before 1752 June, after 1752 April
Month 5Before 1752 July, after 1752 May
Month 6Before 1752 August, after 1752 June
Month 7Before 1752 September, after 1752 July
Month 8Before 1752 October, after 1752 August
Month 9Before 1752 November, after 1752 September
Month 10Before 1752 December, after 1752 October
Month 11Before 1752 January, after 1752 November
Month 12Before 1752 February, after 1752 December
Quarter DaysOr four common days when payments were made
Lady day Or Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 25 March
Midsummer day2021-06-24 00:00:00
Michaelmas dayOr Feast of St. Michael the Archangel, 29 September
Christmas day2021-12-25 00:00:00